The community of Balsthal already receives its electricity supply via AVAG's 16 kV grid, so it was obvious that AVAG would show an interest when the prospective sale was announced. After thorough examination of various options, a sub-committee set up by the Balsthal community council to determine Elektra's future presented the assembled electorate with the recommendation to sell. AVAG finally won its bid over tough competition from other quarters.
The Balsthal low-voltage grid and associated installations will thus be handed over to AVAG on 1 January 2003 for a sale price of 21.75 million Swiss francs. Like the other 13 communities where AVAG is the retail energy supplier, the grid will be managed, operated and maintained by Aare Energie AG (a.en), a joint venture involving AVAG and the Städtischen Betriebe Olten (sbo) municipal utility company. This grid purchase increases direct customer sales by 36 gigawatt-hours (GWh) to 217 GWh for AVAG, or 340 GWh for a.en. a.en now meets the electricity, gas and water needs of 38,000 customers.
AVAG and a.en executive board members Norbert Caspar and Heiner Schranz, who were present at the community assembly, expressed their pleasure at the clear vote that led to this growth in the companies' sales territory. They attribute the positive result in large part to the right mix of an experienced co-operative local energy supplier, backed by a major operator (Atel). They simultaneously emphasised the continued involvement of Elektra Balsthal's existing local service providers, and unchanged electricity tariffs for consumers in Balsthal.
Aare Energie AG (a.en)